Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 30, 2011

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts
and the degree of concentration on a single thought
are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.

Ramana Maharshi

I love the way Easterners think. But. Like a lot of all “spiritual” thinking (and, of course, Scriptural thinking) it tends to exaggerate in order to make its point. Which is a problem. Because it tends to modern ears to sound ….. well, exaggerated and nonsensical. Anyway, once you understand this, you can then begin to explore the depths of meaning.

So: I would say. All this elegant principle says is, Try To Concentrate. Don’t think that you will ever arrive at a state when you will be able to do this consistently. And let me tell you, I can relate. I am constantly doing a hundred things at the same time ….. or trying. When I’m sitting at my computer, I am jumping back and forth with a lot of things I’m responding to. When I’m writing a sermon, I have learned that my mind is going to be on a million things ….. and that my sermon is NOT going to be written until that stops. So, I’ve learned to “go with the flow” and not “worry” ….. and then the moment to write arrives and the sermon gets written. It is fail-proof. I just have to be present and available to the moment.

There will always be “unwanted thoughts”. It’s impossible not to have them. But I agree that one indication of “spiritual progress” is being able to hold onto one thought for a bit ….. and then to pull that into one’s vision for who you want to be.

We all have the power to exclude “unwanted thoughts” for a bit ….. and in that moment of freedom, to take a leap forward and advance on the road to Being You.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 22, 2011

Each minute of life should be a divine quest.

Paramahansa Yogananda

These kinds of statements often make it sound as if we human beings are something other than human. Mystics write that we are to “become divine”.

I would say: There is only one goal for a human being: to become a Human Being. There’s the rub. What is a fully evolved Human Being? We could ponder that today, on this Solstice when we ponder the Light growing.

The mystics of many religions and “paths” speak about becoming Divinized, becoming “God”. What do they mean? One thing they certainly don’t mean is that we will become the power of Life in the Universe. That power is Eternal ….. and we human beings are mortal and transitory, at least in this earthly form. But they do mean that there is a resemblance, an intimate connection between “God” and us. In essence, we humans have invented God. And one of the things we have done is to invest God with all the characteristics that we have come to think would constitute the kind of Beings we would like to be at our “best”: Loving, Kind, Gentle, Wise, Just, Vulnerable, Caring.

One premise of much religious thought is that we cannot be fully human unless we are infused by “God”. (be “born again”) The Torah and the Gospel propose this. Putting aside all the tortuous theological gymnastics, fundamentally I agree. But the question still remains: What does it mean to be a “fully actualized” (well, on that path, at least!) person?

One thing I think it means is that we become more and more ….. simple. Which is not to say that we won’t always be “complex” - that’s part of being an evolved life-form. Simplicity is what I think the Beatitude means by “pure of heart”. To desire one thing. The Gospel proposes that it be LOVE. That’s good and simple … at least as an organizing concept. I like to think of Love as The Great Benign Black Hole: regularly you just let yourself get caught in its gravity, get sucked in, get molecularly reassembled, and pop out the other side ready to give it another go!

So: off you go! Good luck, and enjoy the ride!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Education is a weapon whose effects depend
on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Guess Who?

Jesus had something to say about this. He called the Pharisees, who were supposed to be the upstanding and most “devout” Jews of the day, the teachers/educators, “whited sepulchers”, i.e., painted on the outside to look good, but rotten and putrid on the inside. Jesus clearly did not think that the rabbis of His day were educating the people in the ways of the Torah, especially by their actions.

Jesus also spoke about the “good shepherd”. “Bad” shepherds, i.e., bad leaders, misled people as to what it meant to be a follower of God. “Good” shepherds protected, gave their lives for the sheep; the sheep knew the shepherds voice - compassion, justice, unconditional love, a passion for the truth - and trusted him.

We are sorely beset by bad shepherds and bad teachers in America and in the World these days, in spades. Many are pretending to be followers of the Judeo/Christian God or the Buddha or the Prophet ….. but their actions belie them. We need to be clear about this and call them on it. I could list several “Christian” leaders and churches that are betraying, in my view, the “sheep” ….. but I think you can do that for yourself. The worst is, these people are leaders and “educators” ….. and as the quote intimates, it is held in hands that deny the essential character of the God of Love, and is aimed at people who were brought up to respect religious teaching but who have been misled by it.

Make no mistake: these religious leaders - and politicians who hypocritically mouth their warped teachings - are destroying trust in each other and breaking down human compassion and connectedness. The man I’ve quoted was a master at it.

This man once said: “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” That’s a sign of the utter cynicism of so many politicians and religious leaders today.

The quote is from Joseph Stalin, who was born Josef Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia, on this date, 1879. “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

Stalin also once said, “Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union”. I think they would have been better off if that had been true! La!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do your best and then relax.
Let things go on in a natural way, rather than force them.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Now, let me think. I can do this now. My partner Dennis was unemployed for 1.5 years. He would apply for jobs, but nothing happened. But, we didn’t “panic”. [Remember those T-shirts a few years ago that said simply, “Don’t Panic!”? ] And we had a wonderful time being together and going birding and doing fun things. We relaxed into prayer, and “gave it all up” to the Universe ….. and lo and behold he got a great job that uses all his great skills as a chef and inn-owner and over 20 years of working in food service ….. and only 14 miles from our property in NM where we wanted to retire! To enter fully into the Great Metaphor, “God is Good”!

However, in my own personal case, I have to admit that “waiting upon God” is congenital with me. And I’ve had a help-meet all these years: the Goddess of Procrastination. I’m just built to procrastinate ….. and I’ve found over the decades that if I just wait, things resolve. This is VERY good for someone who loathes conflict and competition with a passion! [OK, OK, there have been some instances where I have had to “confront” …. but it was under severe duress!]

But: we are not a culture that teaches or honours the process called from the glorious 60’s (and I mean that!) “Going with the Flow”. We are taught to compete, and to engage, and to do whatever we can to make things work out the way we want ….. even if it means trampling others to mush in the process. And in all that, we co-opted Jesus as our guru ….. remember the book “Jesus is my CEO”?? Puh-leeze!

Anyway: maybe the young in general can’t manage the “Go with the Flow” paradigm? If you aren’t out there shaping the World so that you get want you want/deserve, you a branded a wimp. But I think this is clearly a defective spiritual principle. I don’t see the Buddha or Jesus as an example of the “Take the World by the Throat and Wrestle it into Submission” approach.

“Forcing” things, generally I think, leads inevitably to failure, as well as lots of conflict, stress, bad health, and possible heart attack and death ….. oh dear, is this why I’m writing about this?? The propensity for War is an example: it rarely leads to a solution to anything, and it gets a lot of people killed and horribly maimed.

Nope. I’m for “Going with the flow”. Getting in synch with the Universe, knowing we are an integral part of its “flow”, and waiting expectantly for the moment in time when our boat joins the flotilla.

Sounds very “new age”, I know. All I can say is, I’ve done it all my Life ….. and I can’t complain! At 65, we are off on a new stage of the delicious Adventure of “Going with the Flow”.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 19, 2011

There's many men forget their proper station

And still are meddling with the administration

Of government; that's wrong and this is right,

And such a law is out of reason quite;

Thus, spending too much thoughts on state affairs,

The business is neglected, which is theirs.

So some fond traveler gazing at the stars,

Slips in next ditch, and gets a dirty arse.

from Poor Richard’s Almanac; it was first published
on this date, by Benjamin Franklin, 1732

Ha! Do you think that some spirit was channeling Ben and came and whispered in my ear a few minutes ago??? Just to make the point that Ben Franklin still has something relevant to say to us today?

With all due deference to my “conservative” friends (I don’t really understand what “conservative” means, do you??), it seems to me that lots of men (and women) are forgetting “their proper station” (i.e., as compassionate and conservative persons, as they have claimed for themselves since G. Bush claimed to be a “compassionate conservative” years ago now) and are “meddling with the administration of government”! And let me tell you something: I was talking with Jesus just this morning and, as the incomparable bumper-sticker said years ago, “He is coming ….. and boy is He pissed”. Himself confirmed this with me in the Hour of Prayer this morning.

Lots of Americans these days, Americans who were brought up to “gaze at the stars” of the American Dream and hope for a good Life, are finding that they have slipped into a “ditch”, and found themselves with a “dirty arse” …. that is, a really miserable life. They are the 99% ….. and the 1% seem above it all …. many of them claiming that they are devout Christians. Jesus is ….. well …. shocked.

Jesus told me this over a Black Russian (it was, after all, after Noon! - and He goes to enormous lengths to make a guy feel comfortable) that He originally blessed the 1% so that they would be able to assist the 99% of His “sheep”, since after all He had made an enormous effort to rescue 1 (%) of the sheep that had wandered away from His Gospel Path. Jesus is astonishingly kind and caring, I have to say! He is not easily provoked to nastiness, alas as I would easily be! (beast beating, “mea culpa, mea culpa”)

So, I am delivering the message Himself asked me to deliver to the many men and women who have “forgot their proper station” for the “business which is theirs”:

Love your neighbours, and see that they have what they need for a decent Life.

Or: Karma being Karma (yes, there is a Christian version of this ancient truth!) you will soon have a “dirty arse”!

Humbly, Brian+

Friday, December 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 16, 2011

Someday I suspect, when Jesus has definitely
got me for a sunbeam,
my works may be adequately assessed.

Noel Coward, songwriter, actor, singer,
piano player, entertainer;
he was born on this date, 1899

I could have chosen Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist; she was born on this date, 1901. Or noted the fact that on this date 1773 occurred the Boston Tea Party. Or Gregory Rasputin (hmmmm …. name sounds a lot like …), the infamous Russian monk; he was murdered on this date in 1916. Or the superb head of the Southern Poverty Law Institute, Morris Dees, who is 75 today. But, nope. I couldn’t resist Noel, for many reasons, including that it’s near No-el, and because of the “sunbeam for Jesus”!

It took me back! Sunday School at about age 5 at First Presbyterian Church, Verdun, Quebec. Mrs. Clegg playing the piano – a lovely old-then Presbyterian lady – as we impressionable kiddies sang:

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam / To shine for Him each day
In every way try to please Him / At home, at school, at play
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.

Yes, I’ve remembered the words and music for 60 years (and I haven’t sung it since those days). If I were tech-savvy enough, I would have made a little YouTube video with my phone singing it for you and attached it!

I wonder if Mr. Coward learned that song as a little boy? Anyway, I think he is poking fun at the things kids get taught in Sunday School, and at perhaps the ideas that many churchfolk have that if they can just be a “sunbeam for Jesus” they will have (deserve?) a life which will be “adequately assessed” by others.

Maybe. But it’s often not the case.

Well, whatever else this little song may bring to your mind, I would just comment: Jesus, to me, points to the proposition that love of God, self, and others is the heart of being human. I remember the words of Fr. James Huntington, OHC, founder of the Order of the Holy Cross: “Love must act, as Light must shine, and Fire must burn.”

Act. Shine. Burn.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 15, 2011

I've never really taken anything very seriously.
I enjoy life because I enjoy making other people enjoy it.


Kidding, just kidding! Tim Conway actually said those words. He was on Laugh-In, and the Carol Burnett Show. He was born on this date, 1933, and is 78 today. He said, “My career is pretty much over. I'm out in the Valley eating soft-boiled eggs.” I had to chuckle ….. because while I am 13 years younger than Tim and have good teeth, I absolutely LOVE soft-boiled eggs, lubricated with a little butter, salt and pepper, and eaten from a 19th C Wedgewood egg-cup! It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy!

What a vocation, to make other people find enjoyment in Life! I can’t think of anything better. As to God, well, we could speak a paradox: in my view, “God” has never taken anything “seriously”, and God always takes everything seriously. Especially bringing Enjoyment to people. At least, the “God” I have a relationship with does. I have absolutely no truck with a “God” who isn’t in the business of Enjoyment. One of these days I am going to have to write a book about this God ….. because I’m pretty tired of the nasty God that is portrayed by a lot of the most vocal of American so-called “Christianity”. God has no earthly lawyers to defend Her against all the slander and libel leveled against Her ….. so maybe I’d better get busy.

To enjoy Life because we make it possible for other people to enjoy it.

What could be better?

I’m ramping up my determination to peddle Enjoyment of Life, starting now! God’s little Christmas elf!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When, according to habit,
I was contemplating the stars in a clear sky,
I noticed a new and unusual star,
surpassing the other stars in brilliancy.
There had never before been any star in that place in the sky.

Tycho Brahe, scientist, astronomer; he
was born on this date, 1546, in Denmark

A star that “had never been” there before. Hmmmmm. A charming, delightful, and profound metaphor, pointing us to the story of the Magi and the Star ….. a part of our Christian Myth, of our “Truth Story”.

In the Story, the Star leads the Magi to the manger, to the infant born to be King of the Jews. For the Christian Church, this was God’s Son and, later, God Himself, come to take human form and to share human life.

This is the Story which tells us who we are. We are “dust of the Earth” into which the “Breath of God” has come to give Life. Each human being is divine spirit, given a home in mortal flesh. For three score years and ten or more – if we are fortunate – we shall blaze in time and space, each a unique epiphany of the Mystery we call God.

But. We must “listen” to Tycho Brahe if we would find the star that leads us to our Self. We must, “according to habit”, be “contemplating the stars in a clear sky”. In other words, it must be a part of our daily path to strive to live a “pure” Life ….. a life focused on the Mystery called God as the source of our Being. Only then are we likely to notice the new, unusual, brilliant “stars” that appear where they were not before …… when we weren’t aware or paying attention. Life is full of “brilliant stars” - of Holy Wisdom from many sources which, if followed, lead us to the Child Who is our own true Self and a spark of God.

The place where the Star comes to rest is You, is I. Each of us occupies a place no one else can occupy. All Humanity - represented by the Magi - comes seeking this “child”. Will we be, “according to habit”, in the right place and see the various new Stars which appear above the manger of our birth as a Daughter or Son of God?

We are offered countless opportunities to be a “new and unusual star” ….. to deepen our humanity, to be “as Christ”, to manifest the divine in the World. And new “stars” appear “in the sky” where they have never appeared before.

Advent says, “Stay Awake”! Go where the Star leads.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

“Sophistication” has somewhat a whiff of snobbery, of classism, of elitism, yes? In modern usage, yes. But look at the root of the word. It is rooted in “Sophia”, meaning wisdom. It relates to the character of the Holy Spirit in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And to the character and name of the Greek goddess of Wisdom.

What about “simplicity”. The root meaning I like the best is “freedom from pretense or guile”.

So: the implication from da Vinci, one of the most rich and subtle thinkers of the 16th C Renaissance, is that Simplicity has to do with a wise choice of lifestyle which is free from pretense and guile. Simplicity of Life, then, means choosing a way to live which avoids either over-ornamentation which distracts from the basic beauty of human life (think Rococo) , or from trying to hide the basic enriching truths about Life from others behind subtle or not so subtle subterfuge. (Think of the ultra-rich “spiritual gurus” who hide multiple Rollses and Riviera villas from their followers.)

Jesus once said that it was hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom. I don’t believe he was condemning the rich per se. He was simply saying that riches tempt us to ornamentation, to pretension, to guile. Especially in the “inner Life”. The Judeo-Christian Scriptures are full of injunctions not to be puffed-up, not to think “more of ourselves than we ought”.

The “teaching” is that the more simple we are in our self-understanding, the more authentically we will reflect God, Who is Simple Love. In the end, Jesus was to try and make the same point by in a sense abrogating all the other commandments and teaching simply, “Love one another … as I have loved you”. There in one sentence is the most “sophisticated” way to live.

The Quakers got it right: “ ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free / ‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be / And when you’ve come around to the place just right / You’ll be in the valley of Love and Delight.

Love and Delight. The most simple, ultimately wise way to live.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 12, 2011

God Invented baloney
so some people could be full of it.

Jay Red Eagle, Tsalagi (Cherokee);
the Tsalagi Chief Stand Watie
was born on this date, 1806

There was a wonderful New Yorker cartoon recently that I loved. A man is standing before St. Peter, who is looking at a computer screen on his desk. St. Peter is saying to the man, “Well, you say ‘meek’ ….. but our online personality record on you says ‘passive aggressive’.

I have a picture in my mind of God sitting on Her comfortable divan-like throne listening to all the confessions floating up to Her from all over the World ….. and She is muttering, ‘Baloney’!

Anyway, I ‘got the message’ from Jay Red Eagle’s words. It’s about knowing the truth, especially about oneself. Chief Stand Watie may not have said ‘Baloney’, but he spoke eloquently of the truth of the perfidy of the White Man as they broke treaty after treaty with his people.

I’m hoping that I’m maturing a bit ….. in that these days I am more aware when I am full of baloney. Lying to myself, rationalizing, justifying my self both to myself and trying to deflect others from seeing the truth. I have to admit that I have often been uncomfortable in my skin and in the company of others through my Life ….. and the reason comes down essentially to the baloney stuffing in my personality.

So, appropriately for Advent - but of course for every day - I shall concentrate today on baloney-detecting ….. urged on by knowing that dispensing of inner baloney is both exhilarating and de-stressing. When I get to St. Peter, I want to hear him say, “Honest? It’s a match!”


Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, December 11, 2011

Among you stands one whom you do not know,
the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy
to untie the thong of his sandal.

John the Baptist, from the Gospel called “John”,
chapter 1, appointed for Advent III B RCL

[ The full text is at: ]

“One whom you do not know”: despite the great longing and hope of the Israelite people for the Messiah, despite all the synagogue Shabbat readings, they did not “know” Him.

We’ve started a new liturgical year. Each one starts with Preparation and Self-Examination, and moves through the Great Mysteries of our entering fully into Life. And, as the Collect for today reminds us, it a daily thing!

So, I have a suggestion, as I suddenly “saw” (again!) Being “ready” for Life. A simple format for daily life, based on the yearly liturgical cycle of the Mysteries. It can take as little as 2-3 mnutes

At the beginning of the day, structure it.
Sit quietly for a few moments
Advent: I wish to be prepared for Life
Incarnation: I am One with the Great Mystery of God
Epiphany: I will manifest as Love today
Lent: I will work to be always free to love
Resurrection: I am freed to live fully, following the path of Love
Pentecost: I am filled with the Spirit of Love

And if you want (since we all need/want a practice that suits us), we can pinpoint the flow of our day by focusing on one of these steps as the day flows.

As the Collect today says: “May Your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us”!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 9, 2011

A heartfelt smile gives warmth
enough for three winters.

Mongolian Proverb

Ode on a Mongolian Proverb

a exhilarating, brilliant
Providence fall afternoon.
i slid into tommie’s room
in the aids hospice
to find his former-Marine lover
by his bed
flowers on the table
Tommie asleep …
leaking fluid from his legs
as usual
eyes and cheeks
puffy from meds and edema
breathing unevenly.
i took his lover’s hand
we talked quietly
over all that tommie
was going through ..
and his own stress and depression.
tommie’s eyes opened
he looked at ted
and then at me
and through the utter weariness
and pain that morphine
couldn’t assuage
leaking as it did
out of his bloated and edemic legs
tommie said
hi father
great to see you
light a candle for me
will you?
and then he smiled
the smile of one
who knows Love.
three winters?
that smile has filled
my life with light
for near thirty years.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 8, 2011

It is better to have loafed and lost,
than never to have loafed at all.

James Thurber, author, humourist; he was
born on this date, 1894, at Columbus, Ohio

Iknow. I get “too serious” at times. But you know, I’m really a fun-loving person who loves to enjoy Life. I have to admit though: now that I’m retired, I “work” a bit, and I play a lot! A feel a bit guilty. I feel I “should” be out with the Occupiers, and with the Human Rights Campaign supporting young Gay kids, and with the Southern Poverty Law Center battling racism and bigotry. After all, a 66 year old priest in a long cassock and cross makes newsworthy arresting!

I supported those things, and urged my parishioners to support them and many other things. And I delight to see the younger people today who are working towards those things which I believe the Gospel is all about.

So, while I have limited my social justice interests, I still support when I can, and I still spend lots of time being available to all kinds of people, in person and on line.

But I want to fess up: I’m a really great loafer! In my day is usually a 1.7 mile walk, a swim, 15 minutes in the hot tub (all in our Senior Park), a morning lie-in while I read in bed, and often an afternoon nap, and often a nice lunch with a glass of wine! And we often go to the beach for a walk, and wander the California Central Coast bird-watching, and have lunch with friends.

And so I say: LOAF! Even if you aren’t old. Even the young and busy can get in a bit of loafing each day. It greatly improves health and disposition on every level.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
[ The Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra in the Christian Kalendar ]

The direction and constancy of the will
is what really matters, and intellect and
feeling are only important insofar as they
contribute to that.

Evelyn Underhill, Anglican “mystic”;
she was born on this date, 1875

I’m always glad to find an ally! I’ve been going on about the importance of the will, in sermons and writings, for a long time now. It’s nice to have such a well-respected personage as Ms. Underhill agreeing with me. [ ☺ ]

“Your intellect overpower us”? Nope.

“Your feelings overwhelm us”? Nope.

“Your Will be Done” ….. Yes!

The personality of “God” gets pretty complicated in the Scriptures. One minute God’s saving and loving everybody, the next “He’s” having every man, woman and child destroyed. Very confusing ….. of course because human beings’ feelings and prejudices and fears are getting in the way, and human beings, while trying their best, can’t keep their own issues out of the picture of God they are trying to paint.

I would not be alone in saying that God’s Will is “what really matters”. God’s Will is that His Kingdom of Love, Justice, Wholeness, and Peace should “come”. This is reflected in our human lives and relationships. It is not feelings and intellect which ultimately determine the character and faithfulness of our relationships, but our WILL to Love, to make peace, to honour, to respect, to forgive, to heal.

The old hymn says, “Have thine own way, Lord / have thine own way”. Another way to say it is what Jesus said in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but yours.”

Over all else, let us Will Love. I have discovered it is the path that leads Home.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 5, 2011

You have to pick the places
you don't walk away from.

Joan Didion, author, crone. She was born
on this date, 1935, at Sacramento, CA

I “fell in love” with Joan Didion as a writer when I first read “Slouching Towards Jerusalem”, which I read by candlelight at the home of a friend I was visiting on the Cape one warm and long-ago-and-young summer. I haven’t found her latest writing as engaging, but I deeply respect her for her honesty and for her incisiveness and for her surgical way of expression.

I think Ms. Didion is right about picking the places we don’t walk away from. This is one of the critically important skills for achieving an authentic Life. Every human being needs to be taught how to make the ethical, spiritual, and emotional choices which lead to development as a fully-realized human being. The problem is, this requires courageous choice ….. and courageous choice demands courageous teaching. And that we do not have in America, or in many parts of the World. Most of the Americans and most of the other people I have met in my travels are woefully educated ….. and the major reason is Religion. I find Religion (there are some exceptions) to be essentially adverse to shaping persons who are equipped to engage the deepest questions of Life.

In Jesus, for example, I see a man who learned how to make these choices. Did he learn them from his contemporary religious tradition? No. He opposed that tradition on many fundamental levels. He learned them by tapping into the “God Within”, and listening to the voice of the Spirit of God. That Spirit lives in each of us, waiting to be heard ….. and Her voice is one with the innate character of being authentically human.

Most Religions today protect their power, their particular “rightness”. That is a rejection of their nature, I believe. ALL religions exist in order to show us, together, “the places you don’t walk away from”. For a start, read and ponder Eknath Easwaran’s book “”God Makes the Rivers To Flow”. There you will read the wisdom of all the great spiritual traditions.

Today I’m making a List of those things I can’t walk away from if, as I wish, I want to be my Highest Self. I’m grateful for the teachers. I want to love as the Christ. I want to be free of delusion as the Buddha. I want to dwell in the Holy as the Torah teaches. I want to honour the oneness of the Deity as the Prophet teaches. I want to be one with “God” as all the great mystics taught by their lives. I want to be Peace, as the Dalai Llama practices. I want to hug away pain, as Amma does.

There are, I believe, “places” on the path to being human from which we don’t walk away.

May we have the teaching and the courage to pick them.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, December 2, 2011

Love is so much better when you're not married.

Maria Callas, opera diva; she was born on this date, 1923

Well, Maria said some very provocative ….. and very funny! ….. things. I was tempted to choose one of those. But, I opted for this more serious quote. To make a comment or two.

I think that much of contemporary Christianity has tended to make marriage sound like a bore. “Marriage counseling” tends to sound like a course in petty rule keeping ….. and it tends in many Christian settings to perpetuate patriarchy and its negativity (are there any positive aspects to patriarchy in our time and cultural context???). And it still, I think, tends to perpetuate an abysmal and crushingly dull and limited understanding of human sexuality.

So here’s my point: it’s about time that Christianity got its act together about this “love and marriage” thing ….. including the dear Episcopalians ….. who in general project (except for the tight-assed ones) an enlightened view of all this. It’s about time that we got together and devised a “marriage counseling curriculum” that really was able to affirm and to celebrate human sexuality, human imagination and creativity, human innate intelligence, and the integrity of human feeling and freedom.

I know personally that Love is better when you are “married” - when there is a connection of the heart and body AND, critically, an understanding intellectually and spiritually of the true nature of Love which Christianity (as well as other faiths) at its best manifests by its Life and by the teachings of its Founder.

Maria Callas is, I think, an example of a human being who lacked good spiritual teachers.

Occupy your Pew, as it were. Challenge your spiritual community and its leaders to become really good guides to both Love in general, and to “Love and Marriage” in particular.